Canada Day, the business

Who knew? I tend to avoid traveling on long weekends. Too crowded at airports and train stations, way too much traffic on the roads, too manycanadaday delays, too much stress and frustration. Instead, I stay home and revel in all the deserted streets.

So I had no idea just how good for business long weekends, and Canada Day in particular, can be.

Last Thursday, the day before the official start to Canada’s 149th birthday party, I went grocery shopping;
assuming, incorrectly, that the stores would be closed Friday. They were when I was a kid, but it seems times have changed, business is tough and retailers and purveyors of food are prepared to pay their staff overtime (hopefully) so they can cash in.

My first stop was the butcher shop. OMG! No word of a lie, I could hardly see over the counter for the mounds of meat. Steaks of every description, chicken breasts, chicken legs, burgers, sausages, packages of hot dogs, deli meats, pre-cooked chickens and chicken fingers and racks and racks of ribs. Holy cow! Literally.

It was the same on the back counter as well, with even more of it stacked up at least a foot and a half high. The customers were stacked up as well, waiting for their orders to be stuffed into huge boxes, ready to be lifted into the trunks of the double-parked SUVs, all ultimately headed to cottage country.

Being the neophyte I am when it comes to the long weekend shuffle, when I first walked in, all I could do was stare and wonder what the hell was going on.

Then the penny dropped.

Or, to be more accurate, I realized just how much money was changing hands. The cash registers were ringing out of control. I was surprised the credit/debit card terminals hadn’t crashed, to be honest. The butchers were certainly very flushed and somewhat disheveled, I can tell you. It looked more like the floor of the stock exchange than a butcher shop.

And it was only 10:00 a.m. Imagine how crazy it got as the day wore on.

I must have been their comic relief. When all I asked for was 1/2 pound of prosciutto the guy serving me couldn’t believe it. He asked me three times, wanting to make sure he’d heard right.

The bakery had practically no bread left. Just a few, lonely loaves. No buns at all, of any kind. The fish monger was relatively calm — which made me happy because there was no competition for what I wanted and I was in and out of there in a flash. I guess long weekends are mostly about animal protein.

If it doesn’t sizzle while it’s grilling, if the smell of hickory and marinated charred beef and the anticipation of being tossed a couple of well-seasoned bones doesn’t drive the dogs insane, then I guess your three days by the lake have been, well, a disappointment.

Fruits and veggies were no problem, although there were definitely more people than usual at that hour; and buggies were filled to the top. But I did notice that tubs of coleslaw and potato salad outnumbered the radicchio and broccoli. Regardless, more ca-ching! Ca-ching! Ca-ching!

Wanted to go to the LCBO (liquor store for those who don’t live in Ontario), but to tell you the truth the craziness at the butcher store scared me off. You simply cannot have a long weekend celebration without cases of beer, coolers and wine. Undoubtedly the line-ups would be unbearable. No way I was prepared to deal with that.

So I decided I could wait until Saturday, when I’d probably have the place to myself, to buy my booze. I have developed a fondness for vodka and grapefruit coolers. They’re from Black Fly Beverages, a Canadian company.

See, I celebrated too. Just without the bugs!


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